The Brief: June 2, 2010

The Fort Hood shooter made his first courtroom appearance Tuesday, but a trial, the military court decided, won't happen until October.

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The Pollution "Police"

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has nearly doubled its number of administrative enforcement actions against polluters in the last five years — yet critics charge the agency still levies penalties too small to act as a deterrent.

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Plug it, Mr. President

There was mixed reaction in Texas to the president's remarks yesterday on the response to the Gulf oil spill, which critics have labeled "Obama's Katrina." KUT's Matt Largey reports.

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Minerals Management Service

"Accidents Happen Sometimes"

In the wake of the BP catastrophe, former Railroad Commissioner Barry Williamson is defending the federal Minerals Management Service, which he led during the Exxon Valdez spill. “Was there a failure of regulation? I don't know," he says. "There may not have been."

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Eric Draper

TribBlog: W. is for Wind

Former President George W. Bush appeared in rousing, joke-cracking form in a rare speech this morning the American Wind Energy Association's conference in Dallas. He praised Texas wind energy, bashed the media, refused to bash his successor and said his grandchildren will be driving electric cars. He also gave away the first line of his forthcoming memoir, a quote from his wife that got him to quit drinking.

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TribBlog: Room at the Top, and Then Some

Jan Newton — who chairs the board of directors at the state's electric utility grid operator — is stepping down from that post, leaving the agency with interim officeholders and holes in key positions at the top of its organization chart.

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The Next Deepwater?

While Congress investigates the April 20 explosion that killed 11 people and spiked an underwater oil leak that continues to spill more than 210,000 gallons a day, another BP rig is at the center of its own firestorm.

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Center for Public Integrity

On the Records: Mapping Refinery Violations, Fines

An analysis by the The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, D.C., shows that BP is responsible for almost all of the nation's "willful" safety violations at refineries. Check out their interactive map.

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A Hostile Climate

The Obama administration's push to pass carbon control legislation got a boost yesterday with the release of a new version of the bill in the U.S. Senate. Here in Texas, as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the state's GOP leadership continues to fight back against what they view as an energy tax bill.

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The Green Mile

Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham was in Austin yesterday as part of a travelling conference on how far we have to go to address the county’s renewable energy challenges. Abraham spoke with Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune about his message to public and private sector players.

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Marc Morrison

State of Readiness

Could a BP-style oil spill happen closer to our shores, threatening our fisheries and beaches? Of course. But Texas reformed its process for dealing with such a catastrophe two decades ago, and state officials say we're better prepared than other states to respond to — or better still, prevent — a major spill.

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HuTube: Patterson's Walk Down Memory Lane

Muskets, bayonets, Confederate war heroes. Just a sample of some of the cool stuff Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson keeps in his office. In our latest HuTube vlog episode, we get Patterson to give us a tour.

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What We Learned From the Oil Spill

As work crews struggle to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Mose Buchele of KUT News reports how others are already looking ahead at what lessons might be learned from this environmental disaster.

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A Bonanza for Cleanup Firms

An oil spill of historic proportions like the one spreading through the Gulf of Mexico is bad news for most everybody, but it’s also a boon for those in the environmental cleanup business. Mose Buchele of KUT News caught up with some big winners at an industry convention in Austin.

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Oil Spill: Texas Considers the Worst Case

Crude oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and threatening a growing environmental catastrophe. Texas is expected to avoid the brunt of the spill, but that doesn’t mean it’s not affected. Nathan Bernier of KUT News looks at the worst-case scenario.

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Oil Spill: AGs Look for Legal Remedies

Texas Attorney General Abbott and his colleagues in other Gulf Coast states are casting their legal eyes on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Erika Aguilar of KUT News reports.

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